How to avoid being typecast by Richard Mille

Richard Mille are often associated with the tonneau shaped case. However, the Richard Mille Caliber Extra Flat Automatic RM 033 is a watch with a round case. Angus Davies reviews this high-end timepiece.

Richard Mille Caliber Extra Flat Automatic RM 033

The dilemma for many jobbing actors is when do you turn your back on a regular income in the pursuit of new challenging roles. An actor who has made a role their own in a soap opera may view their employment as a lucrative cash cow or conversely they may feel they are in danger of diminishing their craft.

Richard Mille has become synonymous with the tonneau shaped watch, but they have a breadth of talents and are so much more than this one role.

They have won plaudits from watch collectors from around the globe. In a relatively short history, the company was formed in 2001, Richard Mille have become a leading watch brand.

Richard Mille Caliber Extra Flat Automatic RM 033

They have embraced new cutting-edge technologies, taking inspiration from motorsport, aerospace and medical industries. Richard Mille have used space-age materials with pleasingly dramatic results.

I recently had the good fortune to visit their manufacture high in the Swiss mountains.

Richard Mille Caliber Extra Flat Automatic RM 033

It was breathtaking to see the incredible finishing and craftsmanship embodied within these neoteric high-end timepieces.

Richard Mille do not eschew craftsmanship. Anglage, decoration and polishing take high priority as they do with the more traditional brands associated with haute horology. The difference is in the “blue sky thinking” which is evident when you study the watches at close quarters.

A watch which garnered my attention at Richard Mille’s atelier is the RM 033.

Richard Mille Caliber Extra Flat Automatic RM 033

A round watch case may not be what you would ordinarily think when you hear the Richard Mille brand name. However, look at the bezel and the spline screws in grade 5 titanium and immediately you know this is from the brand synonymous with motorsport.

The dial

The watch is available in 18-carat white gold and 18-carat red gold. I personally like the warm hue of the latter.

Richard Mille Caliber Extra Flat Automatic RM 033

The choice of case material dictates the colour of the hour and minute hands which match the case colour, with white luminous material towards their centre.

Roman numerals are used to impart the hours. They are translucent, allowing some of the detail of the horological engine to shine through.

Around the perimeter of the dial on a plain black background is the brand nomenclature and five minute integers marked 5, 10, 15, 20 etc, in Arabic numerals.

Through the sapphire crystal, the wearer can delight in the sight of the plate coated with Titalyt which contrasts with the silver coloured parts affixed to the plate.

The case

Fans of the brand can sigh with relief. The tripartite case features on this model. This case is incredibly complex in its construction, but worth the efforts of the artisans who’ve incessantly toiled in its fabrication.

The three parts to the case are brought together in clam-shell union using 16 spline screws in grade 5 titanium and abrasion resistant washers made of 316L stainless steel.

Richard Mille does not use conventional flat-head screws, they may become damaged when tightening. The brand favours special spline screws which are tightened to a pre-determined torque. It is this attention to detail that marks out Richard Mille as a little special.

The underside of the case is curved, like all Richard Mille watches, perfectly nestling on the wrist. It sounds simple, but the fabrication is anything but. The dividend is the supreme comfort afforded the wearer.

The diameter of the case is 45.70mm. I found the crown did not gouge my skin when I flexed my wrist, unlike some similar sized watches.

The case height is only 6.30 mm thanks to the extra flat movement.

Sapphire case backs are de rigueur on fine timepieces and this watch does not fail in this regard. However, the view afforded is matchless in its presentation. For this self-confessed watch geek, the vista surpasses any Canaletto. This is a work of art.

Richard Mille Caliber Extra Flat Automatic RM 033

The crown is ceramic and detailed with 18-carat red gold to match the case.

The movement

With a thickness of only 2.60mm, the movement is as slender as a fasting super-model. There is no fat to spare. The space within the case is fully exploited. This is a skill practised in Formula One, where the engine is made incredibly compact and designed to have a low centre of gravity by optimising every millimetre available. Richard Mille doesn’t miss a trick.

The micro-rotor is off-set to utilise all available space, mitigating the thickness of the movement in the process. The micro-rotor is tiny, made of solid platinum, winding bi-directionally it harnesses power wonderfully despite its diminutive dimensions. The watch has a power reserve of 42 hours.

My delight is heightened with the site of the bottom plate with Titalyt coating, skeletonised bridges coated in PVD and rhodium plated wheels peeping back at me. It offers a wonderful three-dimensional quality sadly lacking in more mundane movements.

Conclusion

I spent a couple of days looking at Richard Mille watches, viewing the manufacturing facilities and marvelling at the timepieces it beautifully crafts.

Richard Mille Caliber Extra Flat Automatic RM 033

Richard Mille Caliber Extra Flat Automatic RM 033

Richard Mille Caliber Extra Flat Automatic RM 033

They are relatively young in watchmaking terms but have positioned themselves as a front-runner on the horological racetrack.

I referred to their manufacturing facilities as an atelier, but a space-age laboratory would be more apt. Richard Mille are pushing the boundaries of haute horology and the results are incredible.

This brand could never be typecast. It has a breadth of abilities which can engage with many types of watch collector. There is always a Richard Mille timepiece to elicit desire in any prospective purchaser.

I love the RM 033. It is a role played beautifully by Richard Mille. But I also enjoy the other roles played by this Oscar winning star and can’t wait to see the next blockbuster from this brand.

Technical specification

  • Model: Richard Mille Caliber Extra Flat Automatic RM 033
  • Reference: RM033
  • Case: 18-carat red gold; diameter 45.70 mm; height 6.30 mm; water resistant to 3 bar (30 metres); sapphire crystal to front and back.
  • Functions: Hours and minutes.
  • Movement: Caliber RMXP1, self-winding; frequency 21,600 vph ; 29 jewels; power reserve 42 hours.
  • Strap: Rubber strap on deployant.

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